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THEISM vs. OBJECTIVISM

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The contingency of material reality posits the probability of the existence of a necessary entity on which this reality is dependent.

The aforementioned proposition of the philosophical theist is classically called the Cosmological Argument from Contingency, which has been used by Aristotle, Aquinas, Averroes and Maimonides. It contemplates the existence of a being that is variably denominated as the demiurge (Plato), prime mover (Aristotle), uncaused cause (Aquinas), sufficient reason (Leibniz) or the god of the philosophers (Pascal). Hence, although we call this necessary entity God, it is not the I AM WHO AM of Judeo-Christian revelation or the personal God of Christian theology, but the God that is demonstrated by reason. In other words, it is God from the viewpoint of philosophy because the argument for this God proceeds on the basis of philosophical principles—by observation and argumentation, by the apprehension/perception of the senses and the conception/comprehension of the mind—and not on the ground of theological truths. This is the reason why it is said that the proposition is not that of a mere theist, but it is that of the philosophical theist. It is a proposition of a philosopher who starts with his perception of contingent reality and stops with his conception of the necessary entity on which the said reality is dependent.

Material reality refers to physical things or to an existent that is palpable, physical, composite; that which could be seen, felt, touched, tasted, etc; that which is made up of parts, for example, compounds, elements, molecules, atoms, protons, quarks, etc. It is also observed and known to be apparently temporal and finite. This leads to the concept of contingency.

A thing or any material reality could not have existed and could cease to exist. I exist, but it is possible that I may not have existed and it is probable that I would cease to exist at some moment in the future. This is because things are composite and therefore have been composed at some moment in the past and are susceptible to decomposition at some moment in the future. Hence, they have a beginning and an ending. Thus, there was a moment in the past when they did not exist, or it is possible that they could have existed in another way, and there would be a moment in the future when they would cease to exist. It is possible that we could not have existed or we could have not been born. There would be a time when we will cease to exist. Material reality, from atoms to stars, as perceived by the senses and conceived by the mind so far, is marked with contingency. A thing that is contingent is dependent on something else for its existence.

The universe as a whole or existence in general, which is merely composed of particular parts or contingent things, is contingent also. Existence in general or the universe as a whole is only conceived by the mind, like the terms "team" and "society", as a collective term to refer to particular existents. The whole does not exist as a thing separate and aside from its particular parts. Existing things in particular, which make up the whole and which are apprehended by the senses, like cars and stars, exist separately each with their own particular identities. Of course, both the whole and its parts are undeniable facts and are real. However, the whole is the product of the conceptualization of the mind, while its parts are those that we apprehend with our senses. In this connection, the universe as a whole or existence in general is contingent because its parts are contingent.

Contingency is the key to the whole argument.

On the other hand, an entity is necessary if it is impossible for it not to exist. Thus, it must exist. It would and should always be there. Since this entity is necessary, its identity or characteristics are implicitly the opposite of those of a contingent being. God is proposed by philosophical theists to be the only necessary being.

The existence of a necessary entity is posited as probable because this would be the explanation for the existence of contingent material reality. This necessary entity was responsible for the creation and design, or explains the existence, of contingent reality. Nothing would exist in the first place without the existence of this entity. This entity would be a part of existence since it exists. However, this entity would not exist as a material existent, but as an immaterial existent since it is not contingent.

Hence, God is not created. Otherwise, this entity would not be a necessary being but a contingent thing that would in turn be in need of a creator. Contingent material reality is explicitly and naturally palpable, physical, composite, temporal and finite; whereas, the necessary entity is implicitly and supernaturally impalpable, spiritual, simple, eternal and infinite. For this reason, the scientific method used to explain what is natural cannot be used to prove the existence of the supernatural. Only philosophical speculation could be used to demonstrate the existence of the necessary being.

Is the philosophical theist absolutely certain, like the Christian philosopher, without the benefit of divine revelation, and by relying merely on human reason only that God exists? No! But neither is the philosophical theist absolutely certain also, unlike the Christian philosopher, without the benefit of divine revelation, and by relying merely on human reason that God does not exist. Absolute certainty could only be provided by divine revelation.

On the other hand, if it could be scientifically proven with absolute certainty that the universe is completely and actually infinite in duration (time) and extension (space), or is eternal and boundless, and is necessary, then there would be no room for God. In which case, the philosophical theist’s proposition that God exists would be wrong and just a fantasy. However, this appears not to be the case because some scientific theories, corroborating philosophical speculation, seem to point to the possibility or probability that the universe has not always been here or had a beginning.

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The contingency of material reality posits the probability of the existence of a necessary entity on which this reality is dependent.

The whole concept of "contingent" is invalid.

The existence of the universe is self-evident. There is no need to "explain" its existence; it's here. There is no possibility of explaining its existence; since the universe is everything that exists, there is, by definition, nothing outside of it to have caused it.

It is a mistake to suggest that the universe is "contingent," that it could have been other than what it is. What evidence can there possibly be for such an assertion? It is only "contingent" in the mind -- particularly in the minds of those who wish to fantasize alternatives to reality.

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1. One does not start with the idea that existence is material, spiritual or any other "fact."

2. Compositional fallacy.

3. While Objectivism is a philosophy of realism the idea of "enties," "properties," "attributes" etc [as traditional realism would have it] are just changes in our level of perception and have no "intrinsic nature." Existence exists, it exists some way and has primacy. An entity is that "part" which is focused upon now - the properties and attributes it has are things it has now. Later, we might change our focus regarding that "entity" and consider the "property" as an entity. [An orthodox objectivist may have a problem with this view.]

What is necessary is existence and it existing some way - what is contingent is are our "conceptions" of it.

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Recklessly supposing that debating reason vs faith is possible, and that the concept of contingent is valid ....

That various existents are contingent means they are contingent on other existents. Some parts depend on other parts. But that in no way implies a sum total which is dependent on a different sum total (ie god). The sum total of things is dependent only on itself, ie, on the parts within it, where the parts within it depend on other parts within it; but it is not dependent at all on anything outside of itself, outside of the parts composing it, such as god. The cosmological argument from contingency falls for a fallacy of logic similar to the fallacy of composition, and is thereby rejected.

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The cosmological argument from contingency falls for a fallacy of logic similar to the fallacy of composition, and is thereby rejected.

Well, the only side I think can gain from this debate is the religious one. So, I will play Devil's Advocate. :devil: Oops, I mean God's Advocate. :santa: Here's my argument:

God created all things. God makes the rules. God can be contradictory, if He so wishes. :lol: So, don't be telling me no arguments about fallacies! :dough:

Amen!

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Well, the only side I think can gain from this debate is the religious one. So, I will play Devil's Advocate. :devil: Oops, I mean God's Advocate. :santa: Here's my argument:

God created all things. God makes the rules. God can be contradictory, if He so wishes. :lol: So, don't be telling me no arguments about fallacies! :dough:

Amen!

And that's what makes a debate so difficult. God can do anything he wants. He could have planted dinosaur bones and Australopithecus remains just to test our faith. He could have created the stars 6,000 years ago with light already billions of years on its journey to earth. And who are we to question God and His "mysterious ways?"

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And that's what makes a debate so difficult. God can do anything he wants. He could have planted dinosaur bones and Australopithecus remains just to test our faith. He could have created the stars 6,000 years ago with light already billions of years on its journey to earth. And who are we to question God and His "mysterious ways?"

Well, of course He planted those dinosaur bones, and placed the starlight in motion so it would appear that the stars are older than 6,000 years, which they are not.

Damn right (oops, sorry God for cursing), we don't question His mysterious ways. God just is, and He is perfect, even in all His contradictions. Have Faith, brother! Amen! :lol:

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To be fair, Heretic isn't making a direct argument for faith. He's addressing metaphysics rather than epistemology. If I understand him right, he's saying:

  1. The stuff of which things are composed (matter, energy or whatever) could not have always existed.
  2. Therefore, something else must have always existed, which in it's turn caused the above to start to exist.

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The universe as a whole or existence in general, which is merely composed of particular parts or contingent things, is contingent also.

You are arguing from the Fallacy of Composition. You are saying that the universe is contingent because it is composed of things which are contingent. This is not reasonable. By the same illogic, one might also conclude that the Milky Way Galaxy is smaller than a frog because it is composed of subatomic particles which are all smaller than a frog.

More fundamentally, you cannot apply characteristics of things in the universe to the universe itself, because the universe is not a particular existent with physical characteristics. It is merely a name for the collection of all individual existents.

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The contingency of material reality posits the probability of the existence of a necessary entity on which this reality is dependent.
I take this sentence to represent the claim of the debate, since it stands as the first sentence in the post and no other sentence is identified as being the thesis to be debated. What followed, I interpret to be the argument supporting this claim. Without addressing the supposed supporting arguments, I am obliged to point out that the claim includes a very bizarre assertion. The word "posit" means "to advance, set forth a claim". Only a conscious, indeed conceptual being can set forth a claim, thus it is ridiculous to say "The rock posited the law of gravity as it was falling down the hill". That simply is not what the word means. Therefore, the topic of the debate includes a very easy target -- that there is a conscious being referred to by the expression "the contingency of material reality". Obviously, none of "contingency", "necessity" or "reality" constitute a consciousness, and therefore the entire claim is disproven. The title of the thread is entirely misleading, since the stated debate claim does not concern either faith or reason.

It is common (but disreputable) practice to cede ground to a debating opponent, by assuming that the person must have intended something sensible in speaking, and therefore people tend to invent unspoken meanings in order to rationalize the other person's claim. I believe that this is a consequence of the modern rejection of the concepts "right" and "wrong", and an embracing of moral relativism, whereby it is never wrong to say things that does not objectively mean what you intended to say. All that matter is that you had an intent, or that people believe that you had some intent, which is meaningful (especially, non-contradictory). The consequences of this credo in the realm of law are at once fascinating and horrifying.

It is imaginable that the intended topic of debate is something entirely different, and is not represented by this self-refuting sentence. There is no evidence that such an intent exists, so I shall not consider such imaginary situations further. Other aspects of the question's flaws have been pointed out before, for example the invalidity of the concepts "necessary" and "contingent", or from earlier, the implicit distinction of two kinds of reality, the material and the immaterial, a distinction further reinforced by speaking of "this reality" (implying that there can be "that reality").

As far as I can see, the logically prior question of whether there are two (or more) realities, or just one reality, must be resolved before proceding to the broader topic. The thesis of the debate presupposes as true that there is more than one reality. The non-presupposed part is simply an assertion about a non-consciousness being able to perform an act that is only possible for a consciousness.

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I think feldblum and Mr Swig have the appropriate answer to this thesis. GB while, I agree with you in general, heretic has not yet asserted the nature of God, only that the universe must be "contingent" on something.

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Okay, I am no longer an "Advocate" for God or the Devil. I'll just be an atheist.

Heretic says:

Is the philosophical theist absolutely certain, like the Christian philosopher, without the benefit of divine revelation, and by relying merely on human reason only that God exists? No! But neither is the philosophical theist absolutely certain also... by relying merely on human reason that God does not exist. Absolute certainty could only be provided by divine revelation.

He also says:

On the other hand, if it could be scientifically proven with absolute certainty that the universe is completely and actually infinite in duration (time) and extension (space), or is eternal and boundless, and is necessary, then there would be no room for God.

It seems pretty clear to me from the above two quotes that Heretic is trying to put the onus of proof on atheism. He is trying to inject doubt about a metaphysical axiom of the universe, that "Existence exists." He is saying that axiom is not good enough. Heretic is taking the position that one also has to prove that the universe is "infinite in duration (time) and extension (space)" in order for their to be no room for God.

Heretic is after God here. His is a religious argument. He is just constructing it as a philosophical argument about metaphysics.

He is also making an important epistemological assertion, "Absolute certainty could only be provided by divine relevation." That is the "argument" from faith. At that point, argument ceases.

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The argument is unsound for two reasons: its premises are false, and its logic is flawed. That the premises are false is obvious to us, though Heretic as accepted them without ground. Demonstrating their falsity is of no point, because we already know it, and he's already rejected in advance any such demonstration. But that the logic is flawed is not as obvious, neither to us nor to him, so it's what I focused on. For us, it's an interesting exercise in analysis, and for him, it's something to think on which he hasn't already rejected out of hand.

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What, aside from volitional beings (i.e. humans) is "contingent" in the universe?

Man-made objects. Things created by a volitional being are contingent on the free will of that being. If I had not chosen to write this post, then it would not have existed.

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Man-made objects. Things created by a volitional being are contingent on the free will of that being. If I had not chosen to write this post, then it would not have existed.
Since I think the topic is generally useless, it's hard to find anything worth discussing. But you've found something. So how do you define "contingent", anyhow? For example, would you say "A thing is contingent if and only if is created by a being with free will"? I don't have any objection to that, although I don't think that's how most philosophers would use the term.

My definition of "contingent" would be based on an interaction between free will and ignorance, that is, it is always a statement about the unrealized, that a choice will be made, and the choice will depend on expanding knowledge. Anything realized is no longer contingent, and anything where the choice has already been made is not contingent (even if the relevant act / product remains unrealized). I also think that anything "contingent" has to involve new knowledge, and not whim. Nothing can be simply "contingent", it has to be contingent on something.

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So how do you define "contingent", anyhow? For example, would you say "A thing is contingent if and only if is created by a being with free will"? I don't have any objection to that, although I don't think that's how most philosophers would use the term.

My definition of "contingent" would be based on an interaction between free will and ignorance, that is, it is always a statement about the unrealized, that a choice will be made, and the choice will depend on expanding knowledge. Anything realized is no longer contingent, and anything where the choice has already been made is not contingent (even if the relevant act / product remains unrealized). I also think that anything "contingent" has to involve new knowledge, and not whim. Nothing can be simply "contingent", it has to be contingent on something.

I don't have a problem with my Random House Dictionary's definition of contingent, meaning "dependent for existence, occurrence, character, etc., on something not yet certain." My dictionary offers an example sentence: Our plans are contingent on the weather. However, in a mental sense, I don't think that is a good use of the concept, because your plans are mentally contingent upon free will, but they might be physically contingent upon the weather. In order to have your plans, you must have free will. But in order to execute your plans, you need to have the appropriate weather.

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Man-made objects. Things created by a volitional being are contingent on the free will of that being. If I had not chosen to write this post, then it would not have existed.

That's what I meant (though my wording should have been better). Things independent of human volition are not contingent.

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I take this sentence to represent the claim of the debate, since it stands as the first sentence in the post and no other sentence is identified as being the thesis to be debated. What followed, I interpret to be the argument supporting this claim. Without addressing the supposed supporting arguments, I am obliged to point out that the claim includes a very bizarre assertion. The word "posit" means "to advance, set forth a claim". Only a conscious, indeed conceptual being can set forth a claim, thus it is ridiculous to say "The rock posited the law of gravity as it was falling down the hill". That simply is not what the word means. Therefore, the topic of the debate includes a very easy target -- that there is a conscious being referred to by the expression "the contingency of material reality". Obviously, none of "contingency", "necessity" or "reality" constitute a consciousness, and therefore the entire claim is disproven. The title of the thread is entirely misleading, since the stated debate claim does not concern either faith or reason.

The falling rock posits the probability of the existence of the Law of Gravity. I am the one positing the claim that the necessary entity exists based on my analysis that things that exist are material, physical, temporal, finite, contingent. Would it be better if I say that “The contingency of material reality POINTS to the probability of the existence of a necessary entity on which this reality is dependent.”?

Two kinds of reality? I would say so. The two kinds are material reality (such as the human body or the human brain, which you can see with the eyes) and immaterial or non-material reality (such as human nature or human consciousness, which you can “see” only with the mind).

The argument is not based on religion, but is based on reason. My starting point is reality or existence as I initially see it and as I subsequently understand it as contingent.

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The whole concept of "contingent" is invalid.

The existence of the universe is self-evident. There is no need to "explain" its existence; it's here. There is no possibility of explaining its existence; since the universe is everything that exists, there is, by definition, nothing outside of it to have caused it.

It is a mistake to suggest that the universe is "contingent," that it could have been other than what it is. What evidence can there possibly be for such an assertion? It is only "contingent" in the mind -- particularly in the minds of those who wish to fantasize alternatives to reality.

I do not intend to prove that the self-evident exists. I am not trying to explain that it exists. I am trying to explain its COMING INTO EXISTENCE.

The universe is everything that exists? So you say. That is the Objectivist framework. And the soundness of that claim is exactly what I am trying to test.

What evidence can there possibly be for such an assertion that things are contingent? I have already defined my concept of contingency.

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